We haven’t figured out sustainable urbanisation | delhi | Hindustan Times
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We haven’t figured out sustainable urbanisation

I won’t go on and on about the Rio+20 conference-you’ll be overdosed this week anyway. But let’s think about sustainable development — at the heart of the Rio discussions.

delhi Updated: Jun 17, 2012 22:34 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi

I won’t go on and on about the Rio+20 conference-you’ll be overdosed this week anyway. But let’s think about sustainable development — at the heart of the Rio discussions.

India is one of the most rapidly urbanising countries in the world, but we haven’t figured out sustainable urbanisation. In Kochi city, monsoon has produced potholes and dengue, a somewhat recent trend. Dengue can’t be blamed on governments entirely. But by investing in better roads, and using high literacy levels to their advantage, dengue can be controlled if not prevented. Urbanising Kerala should not become unhealthy, dis-functional Kerala.

Meanwhile, Gurgaon has residents fighting massive deforestation in the region, typically by rapacious builders. Intense leopard-human conflict apart, forests also reduce dust and temperatures. This translates into less allergies and less energy for cooling. In Gurgaon, where diesel generators abound, more forests could reduce cancer-causing diesel fumes. Unsustainable urbanisation like this can be seen across India. Even the World Health Organization reminds us that healthy populations are central to sustainable development. This is an important message for India’s urban future.

United We Stand

Organised citizens actions — the Arab Spring or the Occupy Movement, have shown the world another way of creating inclusive governance. They are saying ‘we will be a part of making decisions about our lives.’ In India itself, people organising and protesting have forced a re-think on unsustainable projects. Of course, not all organising is in the public interest-business associations frequently lobby for concessions that harm sustainable development. But if you care about our green future, organising is an important first step.